PN Review Print and Online Poetry Magazine
News and Notes
PNR266 Now Available
The latest issue of PN Review is now available to read online. read more
Most Read... Eavan BolandA Lyric Voice at Bay
(PN Review 121)
Vahni CapildeoOn Judging Prizes, & Reading More than Six Really Good Books
(PN Review 237)
Tim Parksin conversation with Natalia Ginzburg
(PN Review 49)
M. Wynn ThomasThe Other Side of the Hedge
(PN Review 239)
Jamie OsbornIn conversation with Sasha Dugdale
(PN Review 240)
Drew MilneTom Raworth’s Writing ‘present past improved’: Tom Raworth’s Writing
(PN Review 236)
Next Issue Stav Poleg Running Between Languages Jeffrey Meyers on Mr W.H. (Auden) Miles Burrows The Critic as Cleaning Lady Timothy Ades translates Brecht, Karen Leeder translates Ulrike Almut Sandig
Poems Articles Interviews Reports Reviews Contributors
PNR 250 Poetry Archive Banner
PN Review New Issue

This review is taken from PN Review 52, Volume 13 Number 2, November - December 1986.

AERIAL PERSPECTIVE IN THE VALLEY OF VISION The Parting Light, Selected Writings of Samuel Palmer, edited by Mark Abley (Carcanet) £12.95

'They are visions of little dells, and nooks, and corners of Paradise; models of the exquisitest pitch of intense poetry.' Palmer's famous description of Blake's woodcuts for Thornton's Virgil, along with other writings less well known and difficult to come by, is quoted in context in Mark Abley's useful selection of Palmer's prose and verse. This is, in some ways, a sad book as we retrace the steps of Palmer's decline. The visionary years (the subtitle of Geoffrey Grigson's study of 1947) find him close to Blake: 'We must not begin with medium, but think always on excess.' 'We are not troubled with aerial perspective in the valley of vision.' Twenty years later, having, as Grigson puts it, 'hutched his spirit with the maids and scones, guarded by conifers and begonias', Palmer writes out in capital letters, 'GLOVER'S CHART OF AERIAL and TEXTURAL PERSPECTIVES' in one of his self-admonitory lists on how to attain perfection.

In his twenties he had already attained perfection with his own version of those corners of Paradise glimpsed in Blake, a body of work done mostly at Shoreham, Kent, and with the right kind of niggling. A convinced anti-naturalist, he had yet allowed himself to be persuaded by the painter John Linnell to look at Dürer and to draw from nature. And it is the tension between the visionary element and observation that, from about 1824 to 1834, resulted in a series of landscapes unique to English Romantic art. Linnell had to ...

Searching, please wait... animated waiting image